Coordinated access to mental and behavioral health services for families in need will become reality with the announcement that Nebraska will be implementing a System of Care through a new public-private partnership.
At a press conference on April 5, Governor Ricketts announced, “There is no question it can be confusing and oftentimes challenging for families to access behavioral health services for their children. With the new System of Care, DHHS and its partners will deliver services in a more effective and customer-oriented manner. This new delivery method will eliminate the need for families to navigate multiple systems to find services to meet the needs of their children.”
Governor Ricketts was joined during the announcement by DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips, DHHS Behavioral Health Division Director Sheri Dawson, and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation CEO Mary Jo Pankoke. The System of Care will be a public-private partnership including government, corporate, and philanthropic entities.
What will System of Care mean for Nebraska?
For families at risk, especially those with children that have serious mental health issues, System of Care will give them community-based, streamlined access to the care they need, no matter where they live in Nebraska. Currently, those young people are often involved with multiple child-serving organizations, or have little access to care based on where they live. Other states that have implemented a System of Care have seem seen increases in the percentage of youth able to stay at home during care, as well as an increase in school attendance and performance among that population. Through coordination of services, as well as removal of any duplications in those services, System of Care has also been shown to decrease the treatment costs per young person.
How long it take to roll out System of Care?
Much of the strategic planning for System of Care has been completed – a process that involved over 1000 young people, families, service providers and other leaders. It is estimated that implementation will take 3 to 5 years. First steps will include coordination across statewide and local leadership, a comprehensive review of current funding and data regarding people currently being served, and implementing a communication plan to educate citizens and those who will be directly affected about the benefits of a System of Care.
Why is this a big deal?
Currently the process for getting treatment for young people with mental health issues has been confusing and complicated, particularly for those who live in rural areas of Nebraska. System of Care will coordinate existing services and maximize current funding to make this process easier to navigate while keeping children and youth in their familiar environments while they receive the care they need. As DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips said, “This is a proven model that has helped many states transform how they deliver services. It is providing meaningful benefits and measureable, positive outcomes for children, youth, and families.”